Everyone has a reality show these days—housewives, house hunters, doctors, singers, sword-swallowers. I’ve always thought it would be the most boring show in the world to watch writers write.
And yet, about 60 people showed up last week in Old Fairfax Town Hall to do just that—watch writers write. Well, to be fair, we went into a different room to do the actual writing, but the purpose of the evening was to see what three writers could do with the same first line and same last line and twenty minutes in between to craft a story.
I was pleased to be one of the three writers, along with Zach Powers and Colleen Kearney Rich. I will admit—I was terrified leading up to this event. I’m generally a fast writer, but writing under pressure? I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come up with something—anything—coherent.
Luckily, the audience was great, and the lines they chose were just interesting enough to be interesting, but not so crazy weird that we couldn’t come up with anything. Here were our first and last lines:
Grandma’s cookbook is worn and torn, a living record of splotches, comments and comfort.
When the plane lands eight hours later in Rome, the airport is completely deserted.
My first thought—zombies. So I went with it. I am actually proud of the story I came up with, though I’m not going to share it here since I want to work with it some more and maybe, at some point, submit it. But we’ll say that it was not so bad that I was embarrassed to read it aloud, so I consider that a win.
In fact, I was impressed with all three of the stories—all different in tone and plot despite having the same starting and ending point. It was fascinating to hear them all and see the audience response.
A really great event overall. Thanks so much to Fall for the Book, George Mason University, and the City of Fairfax for hosting us. I had a blast!
Photos by George Bradshaw